Vincent Van Gogh comes to life in this multi-media, hands on, interactive extravaganza that is so much more than an art exhibition, writes Michael Holland.

With headphones on I entered the maze of Vincent’s life, and as I turned the first corner to find an illuminated scene of his life and work the automated audio-guide kicked in with historical facts. At each point in the journey you can sit or stand and listen to a story put together by experts, you can watch short films; you can draw, you can literally feel the texture of his paint strokes on huge 3D scans. 

After just a few minutes I felt I knew the man. I felt for his anguish. I felt his passion for painting. I understood why he cut off his ear. And all the time I was listening to Van Gogh’s life story I was experiencing the art that inspired thousands. It truly is an experience that takes you from his childhood in the Netherlands, through the streets and cafés of Paris, out into the French countryside and in to the asylum when life got too much for Vincent.

For me the best part was being able to sit on Van Gogh’s bed in a spot-on mock up installation of his bedroom, created to look exactly like the painting for visitors to have a photo taken in it.

Meet Vincent Van Gogh is no cheap fantasy fail that you read about each year at Christmas time with drunken Santas and horses with strap-on unicorn horns, but has been made possible with the full cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum. This is a first class experience that gives you all you will ever need about Vincent Van Gogh.

Meet Vincent Van Gogh is on at Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PP until 21st May. Times: Sun-Wed 10am – 6pm; Thur-Sat 10am – 10pm. Admission: Mon-Fri £18; Weekends £20

Photos: M. Holland